Cameron’s claim in asking for authorisation to bomb Syria is that it is intended to destroy ISIS and other ‘jihadists’. But the facts show this is a lie, that Cameron’s aim in Syria is totally different, and that its end result will be to strengthen ‘jihadists’. As unfortunately some on the left have also not understood the real situation on this it is therefore important to clarify the real facts in Syria which demonstrate what are Cameron’s actual goals.
Who is really behind ISIS?
The beginning and end of wisdom on military conflicts is Clausewitz’s famous dictum ‘war is the continuation of politics by other means’. War is not something ‘irrational’ and aside from politics but merely a (violent) means by which political forces seek to achieve their goals. Therefore to find out what is Cameron’s goal in bombing Syria it is necessary to analyse what are the political and social forces contending there.
It is simple to identify the political forces supporting ISIS and other ‘jihadist’ terrorist organisation in Syria. The key logistical support and supply routes for ISIS come over the border from Turkey. The chief financial support for ISIS comes from Saudi Arabia and Qatar – together with many of the weapons for ISIS. These facts are easily summarised and are widely reported in the media. UK and US intelligence agencies of course will have many additional details to those already available in the media through resources of electronic surveillance, human spies, satellite reconnaissance etc. Given these resources there can be no doubt Cameron knows the real situation in Syria – he is merely lying to conceal it with the aim of using others, who do not understand the real situation, to aid him in securing goals they would not agree with and which he is deliberately attempting to conceal.
Taking first the supply routes to ISIS, the most recent thorough analysis was the widely circulated article by Aris Roussinos on 20 November. This was carried by the US Vice news service and clearly identified the way ISIS could be defeated – indeed the article was entitled ‘How the West Could Actually Defeat the Islamic State’. Roussinos noted : ‘Turkey’s blind-eye border policy with IS has allowed the group to funnel fighters back and forth with ease… Perhaps the greatest single obstacle to a successful coalition assault on Raqqa is IS [ISIS] control of Jarablus, the group’s last remaining border crossing with Turkey. Without Jarablus, the group will find itself starved of funds from cross-border trade, the ability to replenish its stocks of explosive materials, as well as the ability to get terrorist cells to the West with ease.’
But Turkey, instead of cutting off the supply lines to ISIS/IS was carefully militarily protecting them: ‘the long-standing ambition… to seize Jarablus from IS has been blocked by Turkish pressure rather than a lack of military capability. Turkey has repeatedly threatened to respond to any Kurdish-led assault on IS positions in Jarablus with overwhelming military force.’
The situation with Turkey has been known for a long time. On 10 March the New York Times, in an article with the self-explanatory headline ‘A Path to ISIS, Through a Porous Turkish Border’, noted: ‘In the first years of the Syrian civil war, now approaching its fifth year, jihadists moved easily across the border, often with the help of Turkish agents acting on behalf of a government eager to enable the downfall of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad… Turkey still sees Mr. Assad as its primary enemy.’
The New York Times noted ‘Turkey has… been unable — or unwilling — to halt the flow as the group, also called ISIS or ISIL, continues to replenish forces depleted in battle… So far nearly 20,000 foreigners, including about 3,400 Westerners, have joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, according to Nicholas Rasmussen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington. The majority of them have traveled through Turkey,’
This situation is even openly admitted by the US security services. As the New York Times noted: ‘In recent testimony in Washington before Congress, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, was asked if he was optimistic that Turkey would do more in the fight against the Islamic State.
‘“No, I’m not,” Mr. Clapper said… “I think Turkey has other priorities and other interests.”…The consequence of Turkey’s stance, he said, is the continued “permissive environment” in the border region that still allows the movement of jihadists back and forth across the border.’
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark also stated bluntly, in an analysis made after the recent Paris terrorist attack, that ISIS was ‘serving the interests of Turkey’
The situation between ISIS and Turkey was described in detail by Newsweek magazine, which is worth quoting at length for its details.
‘A former member of ISIS has revealed the extent to which the cooperation of the Turkish military allows the terrorist group, who now control large parts of Iraq and Syria, to travel through Turkish territory to reinforce fighters battling Kurdish forces.
‘A reluctant former communications technician working for Islamic State, now going by the pseudonym “Sherko Omer”, who managed to escape the group, told Newsweek that he travelled in a convoy of trucks as part of an ISIS unit from their stronghold in Raqqa, across Turkish border, through Turkey and then back across the border to attack Syrian Kurds in the city of Serekaniye in northern Syria in February.
‘”ISIS commanders told us to fear nothing at all because there was full cooperation with the Turks,” said Omer of crossing the border into Turkey, “and they reassured us that nothing will happen, especially when that is how they regularly travel from Raqqa and Aleppo to the Kurdish areas further northeast of Syria because it was impossible to travel through Syria as YPG [National Army of Syrian Kurdistan] controlled most parts of the Kurdish region.”…
‘YPG spokesman Polat Can went even further, saying that Turkish forces were actively aiding ISIS. “There is more than enough evidence with us now proving that the Turkish army gives ISIS terrorists weapons, ammunitions and allows them to cross the Turkish official border crossings in order for ISIS terrorists to initiate inhumane attacks against the Kurdish people in Rojava [north-eastern Syria].”
‘Omer explained that during his time with ISIS, Turkey had been seen as an ally against the Kurds. “ISIS saw the Turkish army as its ally especially when it came to attacking the Kurds in Syria. The Kurds were the common enemy for both ISIS and Turkey. Also, ISIS had to be a Turkish ally because only through Turkey they were able to deploy ISIS fighters to northern parts of the Kurdish cities and towns in Syria.”
‘”ISIS and Turkey cooperate together on the ground on the basis that they have a common enemy to destroy, the Kurds,” he added.’
In reality Turkey can do nothing without the agreement of the US. The US is both Turkey’s arms supplier and the US can also impose financial sanctions. Furthermore even if Turkey tried to defy the US temporarily the US possesses modern precision weapons with which it would be easy to bomb just inside the Syrian border from Jarablus and destroy ISIS supplies.
As the US takes none of these steps there is only one conclusion: Turkey is supporting ISIS, the US knows it, and the US is not seriously attempting to stop it.
The situation is equally clear with Saudi Arabia. That Saudi Arabia is the main source of funding for ‘jihadist’ groups has been known for a long time to the US. A secret December 2009 paper signed by the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, released by Wikileaks, already noted that that: ‘Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] and other terrorist groups.”
Clinton noted: ‘Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.’
As Robert Fisk analysed: ‘bin Laden was himself a Saudi, who in the 1990s did have a personal meeting with Prince Turki [of Saudi Arabia] in Pakistan. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers of 9/11 were Saudi citizens. And within months of the US attacks, a classified Pentagon briefing was told by an analyst for the Rand Corporation – set up in 1945 with the help of the US military – that Saudi Arabia was the “kernel of evil” in the Middle East and was “active at every level of the terrorist chain”.
‘Deciding who is funding ISIS – and who should take the heat for its survival – depends upon the degree to which the world believes that the “Islamic State” is self-financing. Western governments have detailed the production of oil wells in Isis territory and the vast amounts of cash supposedly stolen from Mosul banks after Isis took over, but smuggling fuel and ransacking vaults can hardly sustain an Islamist “nation” which controls an area larger than the UK.
‘Millions of dollars must be arriving in ISIS hands from outside Iraq and Syria, and the question must be asked: if it doesn’t come from within Saudi Arabia – or Qatar – who on earth is providing the wherewithal? Iceland? Peru?’
General Wesley Clark explained the answer to the same question even more bluntly stating that ISIS was not only serving the interests of Turkey but also ‘serving the interests of… Saudi Arabia.’
Saudi Arabia is even less capable of acting independently of the US than is Turkey. With Saudi Arabia facing a potential confrontation with Iran, and with the US as its arms supplier, the US only has to blow its dog whistle and Saudi Arabia will come to heel.
In summary if Saudi Arabia doesn’t cut off funding for ISIS it is because the US hasn’t seriously ordered it to. If the US really wished it financial or arms sanctions would soon force Saudi Arabia to cut off financing of ISIS.
Cameron – parrot of the US
All these facts, which are totally public, are of course well known to Cameron. Indeed Cameron will have far more detailed knowledge from intelligence sources. Furthermore on such a grave matter as a war Britain cannot act independently of the US – as every British government since Suez has known. These facts on the ground prove that the aim of Cameron in bombing Syria is not to destroy ISIS – because ISIS could easily be destroyed by the far more effective means of cutting off its supply routes from Turkey and cutting off its finance from Saudi Arabia.
In summary Cameron’s aim in bombing Syria cannot possibly be to destroy ISIS because the facts prove Cameron is not supporting effective measures to destroy ISIS. But if Cameron’s aim in Syria is clearly not to destroy ISIS what is it?
The answer is actually contained in Cameron’s reply to the second of the questions asked him by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee. Cameron refers to the: ‘true objective – political transition in Syria.’ In short Cameron’s real goal in Syria is to overthrow Assad. Indeed the alignment of forces in Syria makes that obvious – the support of Turkey and Saudi Arabia to ISIS is because this jihadist terrorist organisation is fighting Assad. But the reality the effect victory of the forces fighting Assad would have was entirely accurately described by Patrick Cockburn. It is the same as the one that took place in Libya after that country was bombed by NATO: ‘the departure of Assad would lead to a collapse of the state and the triumph of Isis and the self-declared caliphate.’
In summary the effect in Syria would be the same as in Iraq and Libya – Jihadist groups would become still more powerful. This would not only be horrific for the people of the countries concerned but also form a base for terrorist attacks such as those against Paris and Mali.
A dirty game aiding terrorists
But wouldn’t these fact mean that the terrorist threat to people in Britain would become even greater given Cameron’s policy? The answer is ‘Yes’. But the reality of US/UK policy for over three decades has been that it is prepared to see strengthening of jihadist groups in order to achieve other goals. This policy was admitted by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the US National Security Adviser at the time of the beginning of the Afghan war – in an interview with Le Nouvel Observateur January 15-21 1998 regarding US policy in Afghanistan.
‘Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalists, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
‘Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war? ‘
Note the clear explicit logic of Brzezinski’s analysis. It was preferable for the US to have Islamic jihadist terrorists, ‘Taliban’ and ‘some stirred-up Moslems’, than to have a state opposed to the US. This realpolitik logic applies not only to the Soviet Union but to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Gadhafi’s Libya, or Assad’s Syria, and explains clearly the real events which have unfolded in the Middle East.
• The Iraq state was destroyed by the 2003 invasion resulting in a situation when prior to the invasion ISIS and Al Qaeda were powerless and now they are powerful.
• In Libya the state was destroyed by the NATO bombings – prior to this ISIS was powerless, now it is powerful.
• In Syria prior to the war against Assad ISIS type forces were powerless, now they are powerful.
The ‘stirred up Moslems’ that resulted, ISIS and similar forces, had no power through terrorism to seriously threaten US interests – unlike the states which had existed previously.
This is why Cameron and the US may drop a few token bombs in Syria, although nothing like the huge air attacks in Iraq or Libya, but they refuse to take the effective measures that would really defeat ISIS – financial and arms sanctions against Turkey and Saudi Arabia, bombing of the supply lines close inside the Syrian border at Jarablus and other border crossings with Turkey. In short Cameron and the US are waging no effective campaign to destroy ISIS but wish to conceal this.
This is of course the dirtiest of games. The population who die in terrorist attacks in Paris or Mali pay for this US/UK logic and policy with their lives. Because civilian populations, including the population of Britain, don’t like to be killed to serve this logic it has to be concealed. That is why there must be verbal rhetoric of a ‘war on terror’ – but a reality of continual US/UK actions that result in strengthening ‘jihadism’.
This is therefore the reality behind Cameron’s lies on Syria. Cameron does not want to bomb Syria to destroy ISIS. He wants to intervene in Syria to overthrow Assad even if this results in strengthening jihadists in Syria.
By these means Cameron will not only act to strengthen jihadism but to increase the terrorist danger to the British population. This is why Cameron’s policy on Syria, including its bombings, has to be totally opposed.
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This article by John Ross, on David Cameron’s claim that bombing Syria is to destroy ISIS, was originally published on Facebook.